11 Talking points for Thanksgiving dinner

Editors note: This post was published originally in November 2015 but since Thanksgiving is fast approaching I am reposting so you will be ready for this year’s family gathering.

This month families will gather all over America to enjoy quality time, and share a marathon Thanksgiving dinner. Can this be overwhelming, with potentially awkward moments? How do you keep conversation flowing as smooth as the gravy?

Man eating a roasted turkey with woman

Photo courtesy depositphotos: used with permission

Here are some talking points for lump free dialogue:

  1. If you have a four-year-old boy at the table, avoid any words reminding him of body parts, since this could encourage an unwelcome exhibition. Ask for white meat not breast, refer to the ham butt as a shoulder, and DO NOT let him get a glimpse of the turkey neck.
  2. Don’t ask Aunt Martha how her recovery is going, when she arrives more sauced than the cranberries.
  3. If you are facing unemployment or jobless, boycott work related topics. You are happy for the success of those who’ve had promotions, but it ruins the festive atmosphere when you sob in the midst of the main course. Don’t be surprised when no one pays attention, since they are focused on sobering up Aunt Martha.
  4. Study the weather report so you can comment on the extended forecast in great detail. This is a filler to evade personal Q&A sessions when someone finally notices your puffy eyes and tear-stained face.
  5. Quell the urge to respond to cousin Joe’s comprehensive, violent suggestions for solving the world’s problems. Instead, stuff a super-sized dinner roll in your mouth, and concentrate on not choking to death. This is still a lower risk than enraging Joe, who packs a pistol.
  6. Will you have trouble with number 5? Have someone nearby, locked and loaded with a super sized dinner role, and license to cram it in your mouth at early signs of an inflammatory rebuttal.
  7. Don’t say the word rebuttal. See number 1.
  8. Designate the ‘grace sayer’ ahead of time, so Uncle Buddy, the lay preacher, doesn’t volunteer. The potatoes will be ice-cold and the gravy congealed as he concludes his forty-minute sermon. Better to nominate Aunt Ruth with her efficient invocation: “Bless this dinner, and all us sinners. Amen!”
  9. When your siblings share tales of your legendary teenage escapades in front of your own teens, pretend to choke on a turkey bone. Once you have ‘recovered’ from this near death experience, your skeletons will be securely stored in the closet where they belong.
  10. Do talk about all the beloved people who are permanently absent from the gathering; parents, grandparents, a sister, a nephew, cousins, aunts and uncles. The younger ones can only know them through your memories.

    Thanksgiving dinner with family

    Most of the people in this family photo are missing and I miss them.

  11. Thank God for all the imperfect people present in your life and family. Give them a hug, mumble ‘I love you,’ and launch into speculation about which team will win the Lions/Eagles game. After all, you don’t want to get too mushy, even on Thanksgiving Day.

Do you have fail safe strategies that keep your holiday get-together civilized? When was the last time you had a food fight? Who do you miss the most this Thanksgiving?



©2015, Stevens. All rights reserved.

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14 thoughts on “11 Talking points for Thanksgiving dinner

  1. This is hysterical, Molly – thanks for leaving the link under my Thanksgiving funnies post. I moved the link up into the article as well, and pinned to my “Thankful” Board. SO grateful for the tips and the laughs.

    I love your T-giving Breakfast tip, btw. I wrote a post about changing holiday traditions as life changes [The Single Person’s Holiday Playbook] – and, before Sally (Smorgasbord) posts some of my older Christmas posts, I’ll link this there as well.

    Happy Thanksgiving.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    • Thank you Madelyn. I’m glad you enjoyed my Thanksgiving tips and ideas about changing traditions as life changes. I have learned that flexibility around the holidays is ultra important when you share your son with a wife and her family. There is plenty of time for everyone as long as I don’t get hung up about when we get together. I see the holidays as a season of celebration and am much happier viewing it that way. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. XO

  2. Choking here, Molly. And not on the wishbone. Brilliant suggestions. Especially the weather one … I shall save them for next Canadian Thanksgiving. Off to share with my American pals.

    • I think since I’ve lost some of my inner circle, Thanksgiving has been the hardest holiday for me because I always spent it with them. We have started a new tradition now with my son and his family which involves having breakfast together and then sending them off to spend the day with her family. It is so different from my former Thanksgiving life, that I find it comforting. I’m not constantly comparing or looking for what is missing. Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving in spite of the loss, Crystal.

  3. We don’t have this wonderful festive time in the UK, of course but this will easily apply to any family get together really. If all else fails and storms are brewing, fainting is quite a good diversion tactic. It can be repeated as often as needed but care should be taken to make sure no one calls an ambulance 🙂 Brilliant post – made me smile!

    • If I revamp this post in the future, Gilly, I’m definitely adding a tip about the proper way to faint, without causing too much alarm of course. Great addition! Thanks for reading and sharing a comment.

  4. Great list! What works for me: being one of the people in the kitchen where much of the conversation often revolves around kids, wine and the cooking and serving of food. (It’s not just women; my dad is a huge help.) Your first item is so, so true: Those toddler boys sure have fun with body parts. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • I hope you and your kitchen crew have a glorious time in the kitchen next week, Linda. I’ve found the kitchen to be quite crowded and I tend to get in the way, drop dishes, break things, etc. I’ve actually been banned and find that I have no choice but to huddle around the 50 yard line enjoying a bit of football. Hahaha.

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